Tension Mount Between Turkey and Syria
The tensions between Turkey and neighbour Syria were brought to a much higher level on Tuesday after Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued an unguarded warning. He told the Turkish parliament, and the wider international community, that the Turkish military rules of engagement have been changed warning Syria that, "Any military element that approaches the Turkish border will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target."
This ramp up of hostility follows a Turkish Phantom F4 fighter jet being shot down, allegedly without warning by Syrian forces. The Turkish military have stated that the warplane accidentally strayed into Syrian airspace while on a routine patrol. However the aircraft was over international waters when it was shot down. The Syrian military have confirmed the incident stating that the Turkish aircraft was flying at a low altitude well inside their airspace when it was downed. Wreckage has not been located in either international or Turkish waters, however the Syrian state media recently reported that some may have been located inside their waters.
Turkish ministers have also reported a second aircraft searching for the first, coming under fire from Syrian forces.. Prime Minster Erdogan described the downing of the aircraft as a "deliberate and hostile act that would not go unanswered."
Erdogan called an emergency meeting with NATO in Brussels to discuss the matter and possible retaliatory action. NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated clearly that the strategic military alliance was not currently considering a collective armed response. However, he stated that the allies ’"expressed strong condemnation of this unacceptable act," confirming NATO's alliance with Turkey, However he was non-committal regarding any further action NATO might take, should the tensions escalate further and a similar incident take place.
There has been much speculation that Turkey has been participating in providing weapons and support to the Free Syrian Army. This is a position that has neither been confirmed nor denied by any Turkish official. Other countries allegedly involved with funding the Syrian rebels have included Saudi Arabia, Israel , USA and the United Kingdom of Great Britain.